The Bombay High Court has quashed an FIR in a case of rape here after the victim submitted that she and the accused were now married and were residing together "happily".
In an order passed last month, a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre quashed the FIR registered by the woman last year against the man on charges of rape and cheating under Sections 376 and 420 of the IPC, respectively, at a police station in Mumbai.
However, last month, the couple approached the court, saying they had been in a consensual relationship at the time of the alleged incident of rape and that the woman had registered the FIR after the man refused to marry her.
They told the court that they had subsequently been counselled by their "family members and well wishers" into resolving the dispute "amicably".
In January this year, the two got married. The victim submitted in the court that she and the accused were residing together "happily".
Therefore, the man sought that the FIR against him be quashed now and the woman told the court that she consented to the same.
Cases of rape are non-compoundable under the law and therefore, FIRs in such cases cannot be quashed merely because the victim and the alleged offender subsequently consent to a compromise.
The Supreme Court (SC) has repeatedly prescribed guidelines for appellate courts over using their powers under Section 482 of the CrPC to quash such cases.
The SC has observed on previous occasions that the offence of rape is an offence against society, and is not a matter to be left for the parties concerned to compromise and settle.
Therefore, the appellate courts must use their discretionary powers with much care while deciding such cases, and ensure the victim hasn't been coerced into consenting, the apex court has said.
In the present case, the bench noted that it seemed evident that the two had been in a consensual relationship at the time of the alleged incident of rape.
Besides, continuing the prosecution against the man would go against the welfare of the woman since they were now married, the high court said.
"So far as the instant case is concerned, we have gone through charge sheet. Evidently, the petitioner (the man) and respondent no.2 (the victim woman) were adults at the time of incident in question," it said.
"The physical relationship between the parties was consensual and the FIR came to be filed when the petitioner refused to marry respondent no. 2," the court said.
"They have got married on 19th January 2019, under the provisions of Special Marriage Act, 1954. They placed on record a certificate of marriage. They state that they are married and residing together as husband and wife," it noted.
In the prevailing circumstances, the bench said, no purpose will be served in continuing with the prosecution of the accused.
"Looking from the angle of welfare of respondent no. 2, who is now married to the petitioner, it would be just and proper to end the prosecution against the petitioner," it said while quashing the FIR.